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How to Apply For a Boating License in Kentucky

Kentucky requires a Boater Education Card for boaters, and not a boating license. The regulatory authority for the card is Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (DFWR).

There are some restrictions on the age of boat operators. If you are under 12 years of age, you cannot operate any boat or watercraft powered by more than 10 horsepower. If you are between the ages of 12 and 17, you can operate a watercraft powered by more than 10 horsepower only if you have passed the boating safety education course and have your Boater Education Card onboard or are accompanied by an adult 18 years or older who has a boater education card.

The boating laws of the state require that the person operating a boat should not be under the influence of intoxicants. The legal limit of the blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% and if arrested for a higher BAC, harsh penalties may be imposed on the operator, based on the severity of the offense as well as the previous number of such convictions.


Boat operators possessing a valid boaters' license issued by the U.S Coast Guard or the Canadian Government are exempt from the above requirements.


To obtain the Boater Education Card, you must complete a boater education course approved by the Kentucky DFWR, or pass an approved equivalency test.

In an approved course, students learn how to operate and maintain their boats, the legal requirements for boating, and what to do in emergencies. This ensures that boating remains a safe and fun experience.

There are various approved ways you can complete the course and obtain the card:

  1. Classroom options offered by the Kentucky DFWR.
    • The course duration is a minimum of six hours.
    • Kentucky DFWR's classes are free.
  2. The Boater Education Card is either handed out at the end of class, or mailed to you within 45 days.
  3. Only the card issued after a classroom course is recognized in most other states, and by many insurance companies for insurance discounts.
  4. An approved online option offered by Boat Kentucky.
  5. This course may take up to 8 hours to complete; some options require you to complete the course in one sitting.
  6. To pass the course, you must get 80% of the answers right on the exam administered at the end of the course.
  7. Course materials are free. Some providers charge a fee for exams or the card: check providers' websites for details.
  8. A temporary card may be printed after passing the online exam; the permanent card will be mailed to you.


The card is permanent. There is no need to renew it.


To replace a card, mail the Kentucky DFWR with name, address, date and location of course completion, date of birth and the $5 fee via cash or check. Mail your information to:

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
Attn: Boater Education
#1 Sportsman's Lane
Frankfort, KY 40601    


  • While liability insurance is not mandatory for boating in Kentucky, it is a good idea to have liability insurance to tide over troubles if you or someone operating your boat is involved in a boating accident.
  • Read the Kentucky Fishing and Boating Guide.
  • See how to register your boat in Kentucky.
  • Check the contact information of Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

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